Exercise your problem brain with a puzzle. January 29th is National Puzzle Day.
Whether it’s a crossword, jigsaw, trivia, word searches, brain teasers or Soduku, puzzles put our minds to work.
Studies have found that when we work on a jigsaw puzzle, we use both sides of the brain, and spending time daily working on puzzles improves memory, cognitive function and problem-solving skills.
- It was believed that in 1767, Mr John Spilsbury, an English cartographer, made the very first jigsaw puzzle when he mounted a map on a sheet of hardwood and cut it using a saw. He challenged the public to reassemble it. It then became a popular educational tool.
- The term “Jigsaw” comes from puzzles being cut from wood by a Jigsaw tool.
- Back then, jigsaw puzzles were known as “dissected puzzles” or “dissections”. The word “jigsaw” was said to have derived from the jigsaw which was invented in 1909 and used to cut the puzzle into pieces, which lead to the new name “Jigsaw Puzzle”.
- Jigsaw puzzles were quite challenging back then, as there were no guide pictures on the boxes! If the titles were vague, the pictures would remain a mystery until the last pieces were fitted together.
- Successfully piecing a puzzle together, even just placing one piece successfully, encourages the production of dopamine, a brain chemical that improves learning and memory, and maintains healthy brains.
- Playing with jigsaw puzzles helps to enhance mental and intellectual growth in young children, and also improves hand-eye coordination.
- Several large scale studies (the most notable being the MacArthur Study) found that people who play with jigsaw puzzles have a better quality of life and have longer life expectancy.
- Playing with jigsaw puzzles also reduces the chances of developing mental illness like memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Jigsaw puzzles are easy on the eyes, as there is no backlight and no glare that slowly wears down your vision, as opposed to today’s internet, video games and television.
- Assembling jigsaw puzzles helps to clear your mind and relax. You will feel delight as you see the puzzle getting closer and closer to completion with every piece you piece together. Not to mention, the sense of achievement and satisfaction when you complete your jigsaw puzzle!
- In the USA more people enjoy jigsaws each year than any other table game.
- The Stave Company of America make and sell the most expensive range of modern jigsaws. As long ago as 1993 a Stave puzzle was sold for over $12,000. Stave make many jigsaws each year that are eagerly snapped up at prices of over $5,000 each.
- Although it may seem odd, it will take you four times as long to do a 1,000 piece jigsaw as it will to do a 500 piece jigsaw. This is because each time you double the number of pieces you quadruple the difficulty. Before you start a 4,000 piece jigsaw, bear in mind that it will take you SIXTY FOUR times longer to complete it than it takes you to complete a 500 piece one!
- Craftsmen are constantly developing ways to make it more difficult to solve jigsaws. Innovations include ‘The Phoney Corner’ (a fake corner piece in the MIDDLE of a puzzle) and ‘Color Line Cutting’ (a piece cut exactly along the dividing line between different colors – a pure green piece can then join a pure blue piece and neither piece gives a clue to the color of its neighbor).
- In 1989 Stave released a jigsaw puzzle with no solution – much to the rage of the many puzzlers who unknowingly strove to complete it!
- The most pieces ever assembled together in a single jigsaw was 209,250 at the Grand Formosa Regent Hotel in Taiwan.
- The first jigsaws (called ‘dissected maps’) were cut nearly two and a half centuries ago.
- Dave Evans from Weymouth carved a massive 40,000 piece jigsaw puzzle in April 2013 that was the largest hand-cut puzzle ever made. Unfortunately it collapsed and the disaster was caught on video! Read all about Dave’s world record attempt.